SCI Madrid, Spanish branch of the volunteering organization Service Civil International (SCI), organized an International Seminar in November 2021: COVID 19 : Lessons Learned, International Youth work after the pandemic. This project was financed by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ program.
From 21 to 27 November 2021 in Navalengua, Spain 13 people from 10 different countries took part in different seminars organized following the principles of “Open Space”, which means that every participant could suggest workshops or things to discuss or present best practices, etc.
The main theme was about the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on international youth work. The participants had a possibility to express their opinion on various topics: how people have been affected by the pandemic, especially disadvantaged youth, and the impact of the global health crisis in the field of international youth work, how to create new ways of international volunteering, and how to use non-formal education in a digital environment.
- To gain experience and best practices on how to translate our work and goals to a situation where physical distance is necessary and travel is impossible.
- To learn from others what local initiatives have emerged for volunteering in emergency situations.
- Understand the social consequences of the closing of borders and how we, as youth and volunteer organizations, can contribute to international solidarity in this context.
- Analyze how we can contribute to the fight against new conspiracy theories and misinformation spread on social media among young people
- Evaluate how the crisis is related to issues we have been working on for decades such as exclusion, racism, sexism, ecology and climate, etc.
The aim of the project is to exchange experiences, ideas and best practices, learn from each other and develop new common strategies. The outcome of the seminar is a manual for youth and volunteering organizations with guidelines on risk management, volunteer management during crises situations, best practices and tips for digital mediation.
Participants mentioned that they have learned how many positive ideas can be taken from a situation if used to think of as completely negative, how to work during pandemic, how to write guidelines,and how to accept different point of view:
“I loved that, it was really fun! The methods made even the most demanding topics very easy to understand. Also, the discussion in groups was helpful. I have learned many things through this seminar, from knowing more about problem-solving to a great amount of knowledge in many areas, thanks to the different activities and the trainers. It’s obvious that it was made by professionals”. Natalia, 25 y.o., Ukraine.
Background (Description of the problem)
The world is in the middle of a health crisis that poses enormous economic, political and social challenges to which the international youth and volunteer movement must actively respond. Young people with fewer opportunities are particularly affected by this crisis: young people with chronic illnesses who are directly affected by the health risk, many young people who lose their jobs or cannot find one, with LGBT+ youth who are isolated at home and whose families do not accept their identity, and young people with dysfunctional families locked at home.
At the same time, reactions to the crisis, especially within the EU, have been very national and local, closing borders that were open for decades and making international volunteering and youth exchanges literally impossible in the way we have done in the past.